*I didn’t know Keye Luke from the movies, I primarily knew him as the blind, but wise ancient master from the series Kung Fu, whose reflexes were faster than his pupil’s, when it came to pebbles. I was absolutely delighted to find this floating in my Tumblr feed, and to find he was a talented visual artist, too. He was my favorite character on the show and it’s obviously because he was such an exemplary actor. (Please visit this blog. It’s a great place celebrating East Asian actors on American TV.)
All Power To The People (Released: 1996) Japanese-American Human Rights Activist Yuri Kochiyama
Happy birthday to both Yuri Kochiyama and Malcolm X today!
Cultural appropriation is real and can be very harmful, but Tumblr en masse has grossly misdefined it. Here are some examples of what isn’t cultural appropriation:
– Eating food from another culture
– Properly practicing a religion from another culture.
– Listening to music from another culture
– Reading literature from another culture
– Learning a new language
– Respectfully wearing clothing from another culture in an appropriate setting, such as overseas, at a cultural event, wedding, etc.
– Buying crafts from local craftsman.
– Respectfully participating in cultural activities such as yoga, dreidel, and belly dancing
– Respectfully wearing or using non-sacred icons or art from another culture, such as Chinese pottery or in some cases, henna.
– Trying out instruments and tools from another culture, such as chopsticks or traditional writing instruments
Many people from other cultures are actually offended when Americans try to fight “cultural appropriation”. For example, many Japanese people thought that criticism of Avril Lavigne’s video was laughably ignorant at best and racist at worst. Also, in many countries, Americans who refuse to partake in cultural activities or traditional dress out of fear of appropriation are seen as snobbish and entitled. Additionally, many religions actively encourage evangelization. Saying that religions traditionally practiced by non-white people cannot freely spread has some very racist implications.
Being culturally literate actively fights racial prejudice or ignorance. Taking the time to learn another culture’s history, values, perspective, and traditions makes people better citizens. For example, understanding how various cultures and religions view illness will help me be a better nurse. Cultural competence can only help society, and it prevents genuine, offensive cultural appropriation.
There are definitely some gray areas when it comes to cultural appropriation. Some Christians find non-Christians using crosses in fashion offensive, while some do not, for example. Intent can also carry some significance. For example, someone may fully understand the sacred meaning of the ankh and feel a strong spiritual connection to it. Another person may just think it looks cool. Both wear an ankh ring, but one would definitely not be appropriating while the other has entered a gray area.
Some cultural practices overlap as well. Tattooing has been practiced around the world by many cultures that didn’t come into contact with each other, for example. Meditation has also been practiced around the world. Buddhist mediation is arguably the best known, but nearly every culture and religion has one or more varieties of it. (I personally like the method practiced in Ancient Ireland best, because it’s the only one I personally know that allows one to think exclusively in words. It’s not physically possible for an NLDer to “turn off” verbal thinking, so most other forms of meditation are inaccessible.)
Historically, separating cultures often leads to cultural incompetence, xenophobia, discrimination, stereotyping, and racism. Cultural appropriation is bad, but that doesn’t make cultural segregation good.
hell yes to all of this post.
and I’d like to point out how many times it says “respectfully” or “properly”. this is important, people. read it and understand it.
Something more about food: it’s not cultural appropriation to experiment and create new food from someone else’s traditional food.
Tempura was Japanese/Portuguese fusion (Japanese cooks “stealing” a Portuguese idea). Spaghetti with meatballs is Italian/American (you won’t find it in Italy, as you won’t find “pepperoni” or pineapple pizza). Pasta alla carbonara was invented by Italians who got some US soldiers’ rations during WWII (I wouldn’t ask too loud how women of a country destroyed by war got food from soldiers who didn’t even speak the same language, btw). Hot curry powder is a British/Indian invention (garam masala is not, at least in most cases, and I say “most cases” because food is always more complicated and alive than any tradition). Tomatoes and peppers are from the Americas, let’s just leave it at that. Chocolate as ingredient is Central American, it took Europe as a storm even before the Belgian van Houten invented the press to separate powder and butter (and make your usual chocolate bar). Potatoes have a fascinating history of being rejected by Europeans as a “savage (ie, Native American) food” and a “plot by noblemen and Jews” (the propaganda was very similar to today’s GMO debate); they were accepted as food in Europe only in late 1700 – *French* fries, indeed.
The most ancient tradition, a tradition that unifies every human culture, is **eat efficiently because you have to pile up nutrients and survive**.
(Please visit Feathers Tumblr where I found this post. Its got some beautiful and interesting art, too.)